Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

BoomTown Decodes Jerry Yang's Here-Comes-the-Weasel-Consultants Memo (So You Don't Have To!)

Oh, this is just too good to pass up, so it is once again time for BoomTown to let you know exactly what Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang actually meant in his internal memo to employees about the hiring of Bain & Co. to evaluate its troubled business systems.

Jerry wrote: yahoos,

it’s time for another update.

Translation: Yep! Still no adult punctuation! We might continue to face serious big-boy issues at the company, but we refuse to give in on our insistence on kindergarten spelling patterns.

In that vein, would you like a nice cold glass of chocolate milk before I get to the bad news?

Jerry wrote: as a company, we’ve made some great progress this year. while it hasn’t been easy, especially in light of the challenges we’ve faced (not to mention the current downturn in the macro economic environment), we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount and we’re all working hard to continue executing on the company’s strategic plan.

Translation: As a company, we have managed to avoid disaster more times that Serena and Dan have broken up and reunited on one episode of “Gossip Girl.”

We’re foiled Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (MSFT)! We’ve co-opted shareholder activist Carl Icahn! We’ve pissed off investors like Gordon Crawford!

Much like Serena and Dan, who are arguably a lot sexier to watch in their state of complete plot paralysis, that all this has moved Yahoo (YHOO) precisely zero feet forward in terms of true changes at the company does not matter.

Jerry wrote: as we look ahead and to position us for success in 2009, we’re continuing the work already underway to get fit as an organization: actively looking for ways to make process and structural changes to our business that will allow us to work more efficiently, with more scale. we’ve enlisted the help of Bain & Co. to work with the leadership team on identifying ways to leverage our strengths, and to improve and accelerate our performance. we all know and experience parts of yahoo! where we can do better and be more agile in a competitive marketplace. this is consistent with what you told us in the YEES survey conducted in may–we need to find easier ways to work within yahoo!, and more importantly, create an even better experience for our customers and users.

Translation: Here come the weasel management consultants!

By saying “actively looking for ways to make process and structural changes to our business that will allow us to work more efficiently,” we actually mean layoffs.

By “identifying ways to leverage our strengths, and to improve and accelerate our performance,” we actually mean learning how to make layoffs.

By “we need to find easier ways to work within yahoo!,” we actually mean having the weasels, oops, Bain, tell us the best way to get rid of people via … layoffs!

Jerry wrote: each one of us will play an important role in this process. in the coming weeks, we’ll be soliciting your input and feedback. i want to know how we can improve the way we work with each other, and the way others work with yahoo!.

Translation: While the famous “Peanut Butter Manifesto” by Brad Garlinghouse (who laid himself off!) outlined all this and more years and years ago, we’d like you to tell us the best way to fix what’s broken, even though that has been, well, the presumable job of management.

Also, if you have any thoughts on who we should lay off, please do not hesitate to put your suggestions in the purple boxes we have placed strategically throughout the campus (and stuffing ballots with my name on them will not count!).

Jerry wrote: i know that yahoo! can benefit greatly from more discipline among all departments and functions, across the company. longer term, getting fit now will enable us to be more successful moving forward.

Translation: Discipline = layoffs. Getting fit = layoffs. But just think how lean and trim we’ll look when it is all over!

Jerry wrote: thanks,


Translation: Thanks and please don’t forget to take your complimentary purple Yahoo cozy on the way out! (The Bain people said it would be a nice touch.)

And, as an added plus, here is a decoding of the fully-punctuated statement Yahoo PR guy Brad Williams made about rumors of possible layoffs at the company:

Brad wrote: Yahoo! has been exploring ways to streamline our processes and bring new agility and efficiency to how we work as an organization. As part of this effort, we have engaged Bain & Co. to help us identify opportunities for improvement. This work is well underway, with the ultimate goal of positioning Yahoo! to achieve long-term, sustainable growth.

Translation: After I am laid off, I think we can all agree that this kind of stunning verbal acrobatics is sure to impress the folks over at Dunder Mifflin, where I hope to work next.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle